A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Transiting through Kyrgysztan

"The temperature outside has climbed to 5 degrees fahrenheit, with a wind chill of minus 4. Welcome to Kyrgysztan!" And thus, I was welcomed by the pilot to Manas Air Base, at 7:30 Friday morning. I've been here just over a day now, and probably won't be flying out to the Afghan until tomorrow at the earliest.
The 36 hours of constant travel getting here have been long, with off-the-plane stops in Baltimore-Washington, then Ramstein, Germany, and Adana, Turkey. Unfortunately the travel process grinds to a crawl at this point, since it's now a rat race to get a seat on a military transport for all of the hundreds of servicemembers I arrived with, and some who were already waiting here. There's a mysterious prioritizing system, that no one knows much about, which relies on Air Force codes that some units have in their orders, but the rest of us lack. So we wind up on the "backlog", meaning we wait, and check the updated, constantly changing flight schedules. Hey, it's something to do.
The ice and packed snow everywhere definitely remind you that this is if not within the region known as Siberia, damn close to it. But despite the close quarters in cramped tents, and the frigid weather, this place isn't so bad. The locals seem nice, and confirmed that my joking pronunciation of the place is actually close to how they say it...something like "Kir-gi-gi-stun" with hard g's. Somehow the English translation dropped a letter. As everyone's favorite Khazak correspondant Borat says, great...success!
Before I move on to the current journey, I must include one more observation that will be in my upcoming guide to Tampa for travelers. Here's a preview...The Top 5 songs played/requested on Tampa Bay radio stations, regardless of format:
1. "Round and Round" by Ratt. This mall rock classic hasn't skipped a beat in the past 20 years in this area, apparently. I heard it 4 times in a week. Really.
2. "What I Am" by Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians. I probably hadn't heard it in 10 years, but caught it here also 4 times. Again, I'm not making this up.
3. "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring. Or, as I called it, the when-the-bullet-hits-the-bone song. I had to look up the band, since it was in my head for 3 days after I left the area, thanks to the constant rotation of it.
4. Anything by Journey. They love some Steve Perry down there.
5. Anything by AC/DC. The cheesier the song, the more they dig it in Tampa.
So in closing, a word of advice to 80's rock bands...start your next tour with a ton of shows in Tampa. You'd be crazy (or senile) not to!


Anonymous Janet said...

Have gone back over the posts from June to the beginning as I have done before because not only is your story "an excellent read", but the pictures are incredible. I flipped from Tampa and Palms to Kyrgysztan and your minus zero wind chill and shivered. Will work my way forward again to the present. Afghanistan seems so incredibly far away, yet I know that an email will land very quickly whithin your reach and in the end America is really only that far away. Thank-you again for "reporting" from Afghanistan. God bless.

June 18, 2006 at 11:48 AM  

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